A Therapist's Tips for Your Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating disorders are full of false promises. They promise to deliver comfort, companionship, and anxiety relief. However, the reality is that they only provide temporary “highs,” with long-term feelings of misery, depression, and anxiety.

As an eating disorder therapist, I am so thankful to do this work and I’m inspired by my clients everyday. People with eating disorders are some of the strongest, most compassionate, intelligent, brave, and resilient people that I know. Once they can learn how to pour their energy into their recovery and life (rather then their eating disorder), they are truly unstoppable.

The following are few quick tips for your recovery from an eating disorder.

Tip 1: Start to separate out your eating disorder self, from your healthy self.

It’s so important to start to recognize the lies that your eating disorder is telling you and practice simply noticing those thoughts and urges.

Just because you have an urge to engage in an eating disorder behavior, does not mean that you need to take action. With time and practice, you can learn how to sit with your urges, even if you start out by practicing sitting with the urge and using other coping skills for 5 minutes.

Each time you practice sitting with an urge and not acting on it, it will get easier. Over time, you can actually start to re-wire the neural pathways in your brain.

Tip 2: Practice Using Opposite Actions.

If your eating disorder is telling you to engage in a behavior, one great DBT skill is called opposite action.

This skill is about starting to notice your eating disorder urges, and then practicing acting opposite to that urge.

If your eating disorder is telling you to isolate from people-practice reaching out

If your eating disorder is telling you to restrict food, practice following your meal plan or nourishing yourself with a yummy meal.

If your eating disorder is telling you to binge, think of something that you can do which would be nourishing for your soul instead.

Tip 3: Feel the fear and take action anyway.

I think that often in recovery and in life, we tell ourselves that we will wait until we “feel ready” to step out of our comfort zones.

However, the reality is that you are never going to “feel completely ready” to do the thing that feels scary to you.

Rather than waiting until you are “fearless,” It’s so important to allow yourself to feel afraid and take action anyways, that is aligned with your true values.

The “doing it” actually comes before the fear starts to diminish.

Tip 4: Take it one day, one meal, or even one moment at a time.

Eating disorders love to make us think in “black and white” terms. For instance, if you slipped and used a behavior, often your eating disorder will tell you that you might as well “throw in the towel on the rest of the day.”

It’s important to recognize that no matter what you did last week, yesterday, or even a moment ago-every moment is another chance to take the next best action that will further your recovery.

The Bottom Line

So there you have it. Just a few quick tips for your recovery. But probably the most important one that I can give, is please don’t lose hope. Don’t believe your eating disorder is if tells you that you are “not sick enough.” Eating disorders can impact people of any weight, age, race, gender, and socioeconomic status.

If you are struggling, you deserve to seek treatment. You deserve to be free from your eating disorder. With access to treatment and support, full recovery is possible.

Yes, for you too.

Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C: is an eating disorder therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland. Jennifer specializes in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, and body image issues. Jennifer provides eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Germantown, and Washington D.C. Connect with Jennifer through her website: www.jenniferrollin.com

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